German Sentenced to 18 Months for Making Fun of Holocaust Survivors

© REUTERS / Pawel UlatowskiThe sign "Arbeit macht frei" (Work makes you free) is pictured at the main gate of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz in Oswiecim
The sign Arbeit macht frei (Work makes you free) is pictured at the main gate of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz in Oswiecim - Sputnik International
A 32-year-old German man was sentenced to 18 months in prison last week for posting a picture of a miniature of the Auschwitz death camp on Facebook with an offensive caption.

Displaying Nazi symbols is illegal in Germany. "You made fun of Auschwitz survivors — that's very bad," Judge Manfred Weber, who presided over the man's trial at the district court in eastern Germany, told him, AP reports. The offender, whose name was not disclosed in accordance with German privacy laws, is reportedly from Glauchau in Saxony. 

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The man had previously been charged for criminal assault and for posting a photomontage of Adolf Hitler with a swastika and fireworks. The neo-Nazi's current sentence took into account that he had been previously charged with displaying Nazi symbols. The man has the option to appeal the conviction.

Germany and many Germans do not take lightly to jokes about the Holocaust or their Nazi past. In October, a 41-year-old intoxicated American was punched and injured by a passerby in downtown Dresden after repeatedly giving the Nazi salute. The tourist's assailant escaped the scene of the attack. 

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The Chinese embassy in Berlin cautioned its citizens in October to honor local laws after two men, aged 36 and 49, were arrested for taking pictures of each other on Saturday performing the Hitler salute outside of the Reichstag building, a popular tourist spot and historic edifice in Berlin. The tourists were fined some $600 each. In 2011, a 30-year-old Canadian was detained and fined for giving the Nazi salute in the same location.

The Nazi salute, which was banned in Germany after World War II, is a greeting gesture used to express obedience to Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. Section 86a of German law, which is usually used to indict far-right groups, bans the use of symbols like "flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting" associated with unconstitutional organizations, of which the Nazi Party is one. The sentence for violating the law can be up to three years in prison, although courts typically settle for fines for a first offense.

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